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The BG News
BG24 Newscast
September 21, 2023

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Media Review: “Gravity”

The mission of “Gravity” is simple: to show that space – like life – is both gorgeous and horrifying.

The first cut in director Alfonso Cuaron’s space disaster film doesn’t happen until 17 minutes into the film. Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki designs the opening sequence to perform almost every existing camera movement: pan, tilt, dolly, truck, zoom, etc. These camera movements take the audience through the beauty and terror of life hundreds of miles above Earth.

Technically speaking, this spectacle is a miracle. The coordination between actors, art directors and special effects producers must be laid out frame by frame. Even then, the extended shot can come off video gamey.

“Gravity” somehow avoids that. The speeds and movements are so finely paced that you forget there hasn’t been one cut. Cliché as it may be, you feel like you are on the outside of the spacecraft with a nauseous Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and an overzealous Matt Kowalski (George Clooney). You also feel that way when the astronauts are disconnected from their spacecraft and propelled into space’s infinite abyss.

Even though a cut happens 17 minutes into the film, the rest of “Gravity” has a long cut’s sense of immediacy and urgency. It feels like you’re on an amusement park ride simulator, only with Oscar-winning performances and a $100 million budget.

In 21st century films, special effects are easy. The list of movies that spend millions on digital effects would take up an entire edition of The BG News. But “Gravity” is the best of the best when it comes to technical effects. Seeing it in 3-D is the closest current generations will ever get to riding Earth’s orbit. What really makes “Gravity” different from “Transformers” or “Battleship” is its emotion.

Dr. Stone has serious baggage. She’s dealing with a personal tragedy that has drug on her life for years, and she has little desire to continue living. Kowalski serves as Stone’s temporary life-coach, teaching her lessons about persistence. It’s so simple yet incredibly strong. The use of space as a metaphor for the human struggle is fascinating.

There’s no love story, no more than a handful of characters and no subplots. It’s almost like a high-tech parable to be told by future storytellers around virtual campfires. Some people have dismissed the simple story arc as cheap and flimsy, but I find it refreshing and inspiring.

“Gravity” reminds us that though life can take us through out-of-this-world obstacles, we must push on and fight. And like Dr. Stone, we have to realize we have been given a second chance.

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